Using the same fills...

oldjoe38

Member
I've gotten to the point where I feel, and my bandmates notice, that in a couple of songs that are of the same feel I use the same fill a lot. Having a hard time changing it up. What do you guys do to fix this problem?
 

SergiuM

Senior Member
Is it literally the same fill? Because everyone has a few fills that they tend to use, it's kinda like your weapon of choice. But you should definitely not constantly use the same fill. What i do is listen to different kinds of music and really think about the fills being used and try to make it my own. Experiment with different types of fills like triplet fills, too.
 

adam!

Senior Member
Maybe try not doing as many fills, if any are required at all. Take Steve Gadd, for example: He openly admits to only having a handfull of different fills he uses in different variations or phrases. Using the same fill is fine as long as it's tasteful *subjective word choice*.
If all else fails, emulate others, and make it your own. Afterall, we're all made up of our favorite drummers and influences.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Agree above, sometimes what is 'not played' is even more important.
One way to not fill "the same way" is to not fill at all where you normally do.
Mix it up what you fill with. Even if you use the same fill, say the same sequence (i.e. 5, 6, 7 stroke roll etc.), trying starting the fill at a different drum.
Kick drum - also useful in fills, are you using it, i.e. in the fill pattern.
Snare - do the fill without using any toms.
 

OrangeAgent27

Silver Member
Fills, to me at least, are an afterthought. I find the ones that appeal to most are ones that one organically from the groove itself, rather than intentionally applying certin rolls or sticking. But that's just my .02 cents. I'm a greenhorn myself!
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
I subscribe to the "bag of tricks" idea, where you have built up numerous small fill ideas, and eventually you are able to make "full size" fills out of those little patterns, and mix them up so you get a pretty wide array of combinations.

Think of it this way: a trumpet only has three keys, but there are 8 possible up-down combinations. Similarly, you could have four distinct one-count phrases, and make 24 unique 1-measure fills (assuming 4/4 time).

Yes folks, drumming is a magic trick!
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
When I'm not especially inspired by something I'm playing, like on a fill-in gig or something along those lines, I find myself getting a little repetitive sometimes. Someone else suggested playing less fills...that's a good idea. Another one is; put your metronome on and consciously practice variations of that same phrase. Take a note out here, add another there, and try to add a few more phrases to your vocabulary by merely expanding on that one idea that you're already well-versed in.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Instead of using fills, you can create some tension before a chorus or a bridge with just the hats/snare/bass drum by adding some dynamics, colors and textures to the original groove, very often is as good as a fill and it keeps the flow going.

Alternatively, most fills can be broken down using different limbs and different sources on the kit, and although the "pattern" is the same technically, it will sound completely different. Playing the "same" fill but just adding/removing notes can make it sounds different too, as using different subdivisions, often the music dictate what's best suited for a particular song.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I don't know what drum set you are playing, but I got caught in that rut for awhile. I switched from a five piece to a four piece. It kinda forced me to play a little differently on the fills. Maybe you can try it once just to get an idea of what else you can come up with. I found myself being more creative with my fills when I went to a four piece set up.

Instead of using fills, you can create some tension before a chorus or a bridge with just the hats/snare/bass drum by adding some dynamics, colors and textures to the original groove, very often is as good as a fill and it keeps the flow going.

Alternatively, most fills can be broken down using different limbs and different sources on the kit, and although the "pattern" is the same technically, it will sound completely different. Playing the "same" fill but just adding/removing notes can make it sounds different too, as using different subdivisions, often the music dictate what's best suited for a particular song.
^^^ Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself. Sometimes three little taps on a bell can be just as effective as a short roll or something.
 

Sopranos

Senior Member
Ah yes, the "go to" fill. We all have them and we all get stuck sometimes. My advice (among the great points mentioned above) is, make it a point NOT to play that "go to" fill at all for a while. Force yourself to create another one and use it often - this will be your new "go to" fill. Then, of course, step and repeat. Eventually you will have a deeper vocabulary in which to pull from. I don't think you will forget all the go to fills once you have used them a lot. You keep going to that same fill cause its the fill you keep going to. Its a viscous cycle... naturally, the more you keep using it the more you are going to use. STOP using it completely for a while. Don't even incorporate it once in a while for some time until you have made a new "go to". We can all agree that there are plenty of fill ideas on the web or in books or simply listening to music. We just fail to learn them cause we already have a fill. Start over.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I subscribe to the "bag of tricks" idea, where you have built up numerous small fill ideas, and eventually you are able to make "full size" fills out of those little patterns, and mix them up so you get a pretty wide array of combinations.

Think of it this way: a trumpet only has three keys, but there are 8 possible up-down combinations. Similarly, you could have four distinct one-count phrases, and make 24 unique 1-measure fills (assuming 4/4 time).

Yes folks, drumming is a magic trick!
I mean no dis-respect, but I think this is the wrong way to go about it from my standpoint. Having a list of fills that you play only leads to looking for places to use those fills and wrenching them in because you heard a passage where fill 71 might fit.

I know a lot of drummers who do that, and I can literally "see" them looking for places to put this cool new fill they learned into whatever it is they are playing. It comes off as amateurish to me. The same fills end up getting used in multiple songs, and they get all over the place in jams.

Instead, be creative in the moment. Let the song decide how you might "fill" an empty spot or transition to the next part. Most of the time, it's not going to be all that impressive, and this is not only fine, it's preferred in most situations. You should always know where you are in the song and the beat, so use this information and be creative with the time.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Good answers.

The music will tell you what it wants and, as accompanists, we don't have to impose ourselves a whole lot unless it's a three piece outfit. Sometimes a song needs extra colour from the drums. One option is to play the bassline, another is to transfer the beat to the toms instead of filling, or maybe just one hand ... it has a smooth feel.

Also, don't forget the use of fills as riffs within a song - it's food for air drummers, and we wouldn't want them to go hungry now, would we? :)
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I'm new on drums, but not new to playing music.

I never really practiced licks as a guitar player and I don't really know any drum fills that I play rubatum. What I do is I do exercises that make if comfortable for me to get around the kit with every limb in every time signature and subdivision. Everything I practice on the snare I practice on the whole kit, with or without some kind of ostinato.

Then I play the groove of the song really slow(counting loud) and start implementing all sorts of stuff into that groove. I don't judge anything. I'm just having fun and everything goes.

When I play the song and concentrate on the music, fills and other small things will just naturally come out when appropriate because every possible option has been practiced and continues to be practiced.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member

Not a G'n'R fan I had to listen to the song.

It's the same fill, but with a close listen there are thoughtful variations on it. It's not the exact same thing all the time. It's displaced already the third time. That's a classic compositional tool. Neuances also change according to what's going on with the music each time it's played and there are other fills in the song. The fill Mike criticises is part of the song as much as the guitar solo is in Wonderful Tonight and it's obvious, too. Mike must not have understood what was going on which is no surprise as he's imo the master of playing things that don't really work with the song. lol
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Work on your drumming.

I know it sounds obvious and unhelpful...but by making your thoughts come out easier you will rely less and less on muscle memory and start to be able to work "in the moment".

Consider getting ahold of some of the great study materials out there...get familiar with reading...teach yourself...indulge in some lessons....develop dicipline and learn to release it when appropriate.

I fell into a pattern of playing that I wanted to break...I broke it by STOPPING every time I found myself reaching for something I didnt want to play. That kind of restructuring takes dicipline...and Im glad I developed the ability to re-invent my playing.

Played havock on my timing...but I can always re-groove my nervous system to metronomic time....which, for me, starts the stale playing cycle all over again...

The staleness never ends...its a key factor in your growth as a musician...how you respond to it determines your quality as a musician.
 

mikeyhanson

Silver Member
I switched from a five piece to a four piece. It kinda forced me to play a little differently on the fills.
This is actually a great way to break out of a rut. 5 to 4, 5 to 6, whatever numbers....just change up your drums a little so that you've broken that fill up. I'm not saying change them permanently, but experiment. Do it with cymbals, too. Take out a rack tom. Change things up a bit.

Fills should get to a point where they come organically, an exist within the music to help it be expressed. They shouldn't be the "look at me" unless they're intended that way, I feel. The Big 14/27/44/howevermany Rudiments are meant to be learned for your mechanical and mental self and to be an aid in your personal expression...not to be numerically inflicted on people at a gig to show you can do 'em. Sure, the 3% of the people that are drummers might take a passing interest, but asking the other 97% if they saw you doing your paradiddles and you're likely to get people taking a large step in the other direction and making "ew" faces.
But yeah, learn your paradiddles and the other stuff. It'll also help you breakout of your funk.
 
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